In 2019, one of my biggest self-care goals has been to eliminate everything that contributes negatively into my life; a feat that has been quite difficult with the rise of apathy. Expunging myself of unnecessary social media outlets has been one of the ways that I have been doing that. However, recently I’ve come to understand that at least one of these social outlets is a beast that I recognise the importance of almost as much as I loathe it: The Realm of Tweets.
Approximately a week ago on an Instagram story, I chatted about deactivating my Twitter account in an attempt to delete it from my life entirely. Yet, last night, after a lot of thought and discussion with Sir Besty, I went ahead and reactivated my account.
The world has been such an unpleasant, terrible fucking place, particularly in the country that I currently reside in. I used to interact with social media in an attempt to escape all of the hate and ugliness that fills my environment. Being a brown person from an Islamic background for the past few years has been the most frightening thing to live with. One of the main reasons that I am an agoraphobic (fear of leaving one’s home, in a nutshell) is because of the hatred that I have experienced at the hands of people who believe I have no right to exist. In the past eighteen years of living, I have been verbally attacked, physically assaulted, yelled at, had trash thrown at me, and much more. Then recently in an attack on the opposite side of the world from me, I lost family members in a terrorist attack that was the epitome of pure religious abhorrence and racism.
Places like Instagram and Twitter were places that I would sign on to in an attempt to forget that these things were happening. I needed to check the fuck out from reality for a little while because I knew that if I didn’t, I would fall apart. While Instagram still provides me with this level of escapism, Twitter became the opposite. I would sign on to support my friends who are bloggers or authors and would eagerly want to read about new otaku related shit. Yet, in the spaces that helped me cope with tragedy and heartbreak, I found myself reading people’s opinions of justification for acts of violence such as the ones displayed at Christchurch in New Zealand. Stories about people I love and care for being brutalised took over. If it weren’t these things, then news of how this country is working so diligently to unravel the essence of civil rights that the nation was supposed to be known and respected for. It was too much for me. I wasn’t getting the comfort and diversion that I craved so desperately. So, I deactivated.
In the days following my withdrawal from Twitter, I started to miss certain aspects of it, mainly three things. Firstly, being able to support all of the content creators that I have met within the past year or two who have inspired me to keep fighting, whether with blogging or just dealing with all of this bigotry and spiteful bullshite for being different. In fact, y’all still inspire me to keep going; to find a rhythm that works for me and to stay steady in the face of adversity.
Secondly, being able to communicate with people whom I’ve befriended. Twitter makes it very easy to chat with people around the world without the awkward or uncomfortable exchange of numbers and e-mails. Sometimes you want to talk to people, but if you’re a private person or just a super fucking awkward cat (like me), having that middle-platform can be quite beneficial. I missed being able to pick-up my phone and send a message to a friend I’ve never met saying, “Hey, I’m struggling. Send me a cat gif?” these morsels of moral support had more of an impact on my mental well-being than I ever realised.
Lastly, and probably the most mundane of reasons, I missed being able to share my work with a larger platform. I’m not above admitting that I want my blog to mean something to someone out there. Would it be cool if I made money? Hell yeah. But is that my end goal? Nope. My number one goal is to be able to share my work with as many people as possible, to share my passions in an effort to ignite desires or inspiration in others, especially with the work that I do in regard to self-care and mental health. I also wouldn’t mind being able to help network connections that can help me with my aspirations (i.e.: work as a translator of Japanese literature/media). Love it or hate it, Twitter does offer the ability to engage a larger audience and build the necessary rapport you may need for pursuits. Shit, if it wasn’t for Twitter I never would have met and spoken with brilliant authors like Saladin Ahmed and Nafiza Azad (her book comes out next month, y’all must check it out!).
After recognising the things I missed and chatting with Sir Besty about it, I decided to reactivate my account. Honestly, I probably won’t be as active as I once used to be. Social Media can sometimes make me feel overwhelmed. On Instagram if I’m not posting enough photos, then people unfollow me quickly (since my IG is for personal shite, this doesn’t bother me, frankly speaking). On Twitter, if you aren’t wise or funny or fit some other mould, then the same thing happens. There is this pressure to have a presence. In today’s society where social media is at the forefront of virtually every fucking thing, it’s insanely difficult not to get swept away with it in one form or another. My break from Twitter taught me that I don’t need to fulfil any expectations other than my own.
I know, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a no-duh, Nyan.” For folks not familiar with 90s lingo, it’s a no-brainer, or common sense, to understand that we don’t have to partake in shite we don’t want to. When you have a culture that is so connected and always online, so to speak, and surrounds itself with being online, I feel this concept can be easy to forget. Once in a while you need someone to look you in the face and tell you the sky is blue or that you have a milk moustache and have had one since brunch three hours ago. Hearing it is far different than just knowing.
I like Twitter because it helps me stay connected with friends and colleagues, while allowing me to share my work with people who I may not have any other ways of connecting with. I don’t like how it can get so caught up with it’s bigotry and how suffocating the environment is sometimes. When I have those days where I just don’t want to deal and don’t want to tempt myself with it, I can delete the app and take a break. One of the things that blogging has taught me is that the simplest of solutions can be the hardest ones to put into practise and they can require the most discipline to accomplish. But you know, difficult is not impossible.
I’m sorry this became so long. I didn’t create an outline for this because I wanted everything that I said to come from my heart in its full, unfiltered glory. My intention wasn’t to offend or hurt anyone, so if I did then I apologise to you. Small chats with some other friends have shown me that they, too, have had similar struggles. The main point of this post today is to share an experience and food for thought that may help someone else out there who are finding themselves in a comparable situation. As I mentioned above, once in a while we just need to hear the obvious or basic resolution to find the strength to put it into practise.